Column on the role of new EU sanctions: fourth package and sectoral
The member states of the European Union, the United States, Great Britain and other developed countries have always stood for well-known market principles: free circulation of goods, services, capital and labor. On these freedoms, the common EU market was built, transatlantic cooperation is based, the World Trade Organization and other specialized international structures are functioning. Within the framework of the current system of legal regulation of world trade, any restriction of market freedoms is considered as an exceptional circumstance that should be based on taking into account objective economic criteria and can be appealed in court (for example, the WTO has extensive experience in resolving trade disputes).
In the modern world, the only "non-economic" reason for introducing restrictive measures is a situation when gross violations of fundamental human rights and freedoms are committed. This thesis underlies the entire treaty practice of the OSCE member states that signed the Charter of Paris for a New Europe in 1990 and subsequent documents on the human dimension of the OSCE. It is no coincidence that when developing the Treaty on the European Union of 1992, as well as all agreements on association or partnership and cooperation, the EU countries insisted on including in their texts a provision on the direct relationship between economic cooperation with any partner and the need to observe fundamental human rights, on the understanding that their violation may entail the imposition of restrictive measures. It was this commitment that was contained in the text of the Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation between Belarus and the EU Member States, which was signed by Alexander Lukashenka in 1995, and ratified by the Belarusian parliament in 1996 (as you know, the Agreement never entered into force, since the process of its ratification was frozen by the EU after the illegal 1996 referendum in Belarus).
Thus, the latest decisions of the EU Council on the introduction of restrictive measures against the Lukashenka’s regime should not be assessed as an economic war or a response to unfriendly actions. The decisions made show a strong rejection of the illegitimate Lukashenka and his regime, not only in the political, but also in the trade and economic sphere. This is a clear signal to the whole world that the moral values of the civilized world exclude the possibility of "dealing" with those who absolutely ignore their international legal obligations, who encourage terrorist actions both against their own people and against foreign citizens, who are not capable of building a constructive dialogue.
Obviously, narrow specialists after some time will be able to translate these sanctions decisions into the dry language of numbers and show how they affected trade, profits, trade flows, GNP, and so on. But it seems that neither the legal nor the economic components of these decisions are key features. The main thesis that civilized countries convey to Belarusians and the whole world is that the actions of the illegitimate authorities in Belarus to rig elections and systematic and massive violation of human rights are absolutely unacceptable. They entail inevitable responsibility in the form of application of restrictive measures that will remain in force and, if necessary, expand and strengthen until the moment when the situation in Belarus changes dramatically for the better.
Today, in fact, the Lukashenka’s regime has become a world pariah in both the political and economic spheres. Not a single adequate politician or businessman will lend him a hand and offer help. Against this background, it is important for Belarusians to determine how long a person who is not invited by decent houses will apply to represent our interests in front of foreign partners. The sooner the answer to this question is given, the sooner the implementation of targeted programs will begin to restore the economy of Belarus and create appropriate conditions for sustainable development for the benefit of all people who deserve a better future.
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